Why I would buy it?
- Driving dynamics
- Efficient powertrain
Why I would avoid it?
- Rear seat package is underwhelming
- Second row is not easy to enter or exit
Engine and Gearbox
The BMW 5 Series facelift that we have reviewed here is the 520d powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine producing 190bhp and 400Nm of torque. You get an eight-speed automatic transmission sending power to the rear wheels. This is the entry-level diesel in the five-series range and has been a mainstay of the BMW 5 Series range for a while now. It serves the purpose of offering an economical engine that you can use sedately and if you need to put the hammer down. It’s a likeable engine and on the go, it would be hard to tell that you are driving a diesel-powered car.
Once you go past the 2000rpm, there’s a surge of torque that propels you forward and keeps going. You never feel like it is lacking punch and there is always an ample amount available for quick overtakes or just maintaining a steady but quick pace.
The eight-speed gearbox is quite likeable too and gives its best performance when you leave it alone in the background to do its thing. As we said, it always keeps you in the optimum gear and you never feel like you are lacking grunt. What’s more, you get paddle shifters that allow you to hold each gear as long as you want to build up more speed. However, the gearbox in auto mode is sufficiently intuitive for you to not miss paddle shifters if BMW hadn’t offered them.
We tested the 520d and in the full-fat sport mode, we found that it did the 0-100kmph sprint in 7.54 seconds, while the 0-120kmph run was completed in 10.75 seconds, an impressive figure for a car of this size and weight. What’s more, the 20-80kmph kickdown was achieved in 4.94 seconds while the 40-100kmph kickdown was completed in 6.05 seconds. Finally, in our fuel efficiency tests, the 520d achieved 11.83kmpl in the city and 15kmpl on the highway.
Ride Quality and Handling
Getting behind the wheel of the 520d is quite an enjoyable experience and as we mentioned in the engine and gearbox section, it in no way lacks performance thanks to some fancy acceleration figures and kickdown times for a car of this size and weight. Some of this can be credited to the CLAR platform that BMW has been using since this generation was introduced in 2017. It’s made the chassis more taut and rigid but without adding on weight and affecting the handling.
On the go, the steering weighs up nicely and has a reassuring heft that inspires confidence especially in Sport mode where you get access to all of the car’s punch. Out on the open road, the 5 Series has the surprising ability to shrink around you and feel like a much smaller and nimble car. It’s in heavy traffic, or rather, heavy Indian traffic, that you feel the 5 Series be of a large size.
Like its predecessor you get three driving modes Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro, each of which adjusts the steering, throttle, transmission and damping. The Sport mode is the most aggressive while the Eco Pro is useful when you need to potter around in traffic. The ride is surprisingly good at low speeds and is quite plush right from the word go with most bumps and imperfections gobbled up without throwing much into the cabin. Despite the good ground clearance, it is better to be cautious over the large speed breakers.
Comfort, Convenience and Features
The interior of this updated 5 Series remains mostly unchanged from the previous model both in terms of colour schemes and layout. Everything looks and feels quite premium all around and if you look from certain angles, it is quite evident that the whole cabin has been oriented towards the driver.
The front seats are both electrically adjustable with the driver’s unit having a memory function and lumbar support, the latter of which is a feature that is now common across the range. The seats are, however, set a tad bit low and you do end up sitting with your knees bent in a slightly upward position if you are on the taller side.
The second row of the 5 Series has a functional aesthetic to it and this quite evident in the features on offer. You get two-zone climate control, two USB Type-C ports, a 12V socket and a central armrest with pop-out cup holders. Space is not an issue as you get sufficient headroom and legroom. However, the under-thigh support could have been better and what’s more, since the seats are placed quite a low ingress and egress becomes a bit of a task if you are on the higher side of age or size. While the ergonomics are tight by design, BMW does have the 6 Series GT with a comprehensive rear seat package both in terms of features as well as space for the occupants to take on the recently launched Mercedes-Benz E-Class facelift.
This being a premium mid-sized sedan you get quite a few features on offer. The standard list includes four-zone climate control, leather upholstery, ambient lighting, power front seats with memory function for the driver and electric steering adjustment. The highlight of the feature list are of course these dual screens. The digital instrument has been a BMW forte for a while now especially in the models high up the price range. It’s a very comprehensive HD quality display with the ability to display lots of information. The infotainment screen is new and is now a 12.3-inch unit running the latest version of the BMW’s latest i-drive system. You get the usual like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, driver assessment, performance gauges and even wireless connectivity. In terms of safety, you get eight airbags, ABS, cornering brake control, stability programme and TPMS.
The biggest change for this G30 5 Series is on the face with a revised kidney grille and a completely new light package. These are full-LED headlamps that are now slimmer and give the car a sharper appearance as compared to the pre-facelift model. It’s a nice and rather elegant design with these U-shaped elements on top, the actual headlight here and these L-shaped LED DRLs that also double up as turn indicators.
The signature BMW kidney grille has got a slight reprofile with this facelift. BMW’s been on a roll to add larger and larger kidney grilles and this one is no different. It’s become wider, sits lower and this upper section slats stick out further than the bottom. In profile, the 5 Series has a long, low look and a purposeful stance thanks to this sporty roofline, heavy shoulder line and flared wheel arches. BMW was one of the pioneers of the wrap-around tail lamps and they have carried it on quite well into the modern era. You get rectangular units with these C-shaped inserts and black surrounds as a part of the new design.
If you're looking for a car that will deliver in the city and out on the highway while burning a smaller hole in the pocket, this updated 5 Series is a good deal. The mid-life update has added quite a few features to an already good package and this has brought it up to the mark of the competition. It’s down on features and space in the second row but makes up for that with the dynamic driving experience. It’s a rival for the likes of the Audi A6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF and the Volvo S90.
Photography: Kapil Angane & Kaustubh Gandhi